Day Flower

Day Flower, 2021, 6 X 8″, Morning light, Gouache, Walnut Ink

Late spring and into summer this gem finds its way into new parts of my yard. While some may consider it a weed, it’s so easy remove if needed I tend to let it wander without worry. It tends to show up in a corner of the garden that’s not been planted and within a couple of months fill out nicely as a ground cover. The little blossoms are a treat candied on ice cream and cakes, or tossed into a salad with the greens. It first caught my eye around 2012 and I was captivated by the intense blue hue (so rare to find in nature) of the delicate petals. That same intense blue is what also made this particular plants one of the elusive to capture.

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About Day Flower

Commelina communis is an herbaceous annual plant in the dayflower family.

Other Common Names

Commelina communis, commonly known as the Asiatic dayflower, Day Flower, or common Day Flower, gets its name because the blooms last for only one day. 

Native Origin

Commelina communis or the Day Flower is native throughout much of East Asia and northern parts of Southeast Asia including China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the Russian Far East, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Within China it is found in all provinces except Qinghai, Hainan, Xinjiang, and Tibet. Introduced to Europe and eastern North America later, the Day Flower can now be found from Central Europe well into western Russia. The flower is present and can be seen as well in Ontario and Quebec in Canada, and in most of the eastern and central American states from Massachusetts and New York in the northeast, west to Minnesota and south through the Great Plains to Texas and east to extreme northern Florida in the United States.

Folk Lore
  • “Biologically speaking, blue is rare. Most examples in nature — the clear autumn sky, the blue jay’s vibrant feathers, butterfly wing spots — originate in light refraction. They are blue because of physics, not pigment. But there is no trick to the Asiatic dayflower’s hue. Its flowering may be brief, but its blue is true. Dayflowers manufacture a blue pigment called commelinin. For the scientifically minded, commelinin is a metalloanthocyanin: basically magnesium ions cavorting with anthocyanin molecules. Put more simply — the molecules that bring you autumn’s brilliant reds and vibrant purples, when modified by magnesium, turn brilliant blue. This unique blue was not wasted upon artists living in the plant’s native range over much of eastern Asia. In fact this blue was an important pigment in the famous “floating world” of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Unfortunately, the dye refined from these flowers gradually faded to yellow green. Consequently, the blue was replaced with more permanent Western substitutes like Prussian blue. ”

Source: Taft, Dave. “The True Blue Asiatic Dayflower.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Sept. 2017,

Traditional Uses

“This plant is used in Chinese and Indian cuisine, and as a medicinal plant. The leaves, succulent stems, flowers, and immature seeds are good to eat at any time during dayflower’s growing season. They are great raw, but also worth trying steamed and stir-fried. Culinary uses include raw in salads, steamed like spinach, stir fried, or added to soups as a potherb. Stems, flowers, leaves and seeds are all edible and create a sweet taste with a mucilaginous texture. Medicinally, the plant has febrifugal, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic effects, and has been used to treat sore throats and tonsillitis. The leaves are depurative, diuretic and febrifuge and a decoction of the dried plant is used to treat bleeding, diarrhea, fever etc. As well, extracts of the plant show antibacterial activity. ”

Source: “Asiatic Dayflower.” Foraging Guide,

Conservation Status

Common. “The Asiatic dayflower is considered a weed both in areas where it was introduced and in certain parts of its native range. The flowers’ interactions with pollinators have been well studied and have helped to support important hypotheses about pollination in the field of plant ecology. Recent research has also revealed that the Asiatic dayflower can bioaccumulate a number of metals, making it a candidate for revegetating and essentially cleaning spoiled copper mines. Several animals and fungi use the plant as a food source, with a few species feeding upon it exclusively.”

Source: “Commelina communis.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 June 2021,

10% of all print sales are donated to Story County Conservation, Iowa Arboretum, and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

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Learn more about the entire Backyard Botanical Collection by visiting the collection’s gallery page. Visit the online gallery to see originals and prints available.

Thank you for visiting and spending time learning about the botanicals in my backyard. May this bring you a deeper understanding and joy in your own ecology.

Kristin M Roach

Published by kristinMroach

Hi! I am an artist, author, and owner of a modern apothecary called Little Woods in Ames, Iowa.